Izzy Tahil started Blue Pacific Grill and Taco Bar as a mobile vendor operating at the Riverside Arts Market five years ago. This month, Tahill is set to begin construction of a full-fledged brick and mortar location at Mandarin’s Merchant’s Walk shopping center. When completed, Blue Pacific will join a list of nearly a dozen entrepreneurs who have transitioned from truck to storefront in Northeast Florida in the past several years.
Blue Pacific is opening a restaurant in the dense Mandarin neighborhood, within the Merchant’s Walk shopping center at 9965 San Jose Blvd.
Tahil was born and raised in Singapore, which is very much a multicultural society with influences from the Chinese, Malaysians, Indians and Europeans. It was within this melting pot where the flavors that would become Blue Pacific’s menu began to simmer. Diners were drawn to the food truck to experience a mix of global cuisines all wrapped up neatly in the form of a taco. In many cases, even the traditional tortilla was thrown out the window in favor of naan, paratha or scallion pancakes.
A look at the layout of the new space, expected to open in April. One unique feature of the new restaurant is a new patio space that will be utilized for outdoor seating and live music performances, allowing the restaurant to serve as a casual, neighborhood hangout.
This eclectic menu earned Blue Pacific a loyal following and later led to earning recognition in the prestigious, annual Jax Truckies Food Truck Championship- earning ‘Best Global Cuisine’ in 2014 and ‘Best Taco’ in 2015. When Tahill’s new restaurant opens off San Jose Blvd in April, diners will be able to enjoy the award-winning cuisines that made Blue Pacific famous and further enhance their experience with the addition of live music within a casual, family-friendly, neighborhood-bar type setting.
In a few short months, Blue Pacific Grill and Taco Bar will be operating from this storefront located across the street from Native Sun Natural Grocers.
NEXT: An interview with Izzy Tahil, proprietor of Blue Pacific Grill and Taco Bar
Soon this space will be transformed into the award-winning Blue Pacific Grill and Taco Bar’s first brick and mortar location.
First off, how would you describe the new restaurant?
Fast-casual, Fresh Ingredients. Globe Trippin Flavors. Local Beers on tap, International Wines, and sake! It will be an unpretentious, comfortable place to hang out with your friends and family. Come by on the weekends, have a drink, eat Tacos, and listen to Live music
How did you get started in the food business?
In the 80s when I lived in Hawaii and worked as a F&B Manager for a hotel chain.
Carne asada and chicken tikka tacos on paratha flatbread. Image Credit: Yelp User Emel P
What was your background?
I’ve had so many careers, Ifinally found my passion and calling in food service! Hospitality management, systems engineer, real estate accounting, bank business analyst, and now foodie!
When did you start vending at the Riverside Arts Market and when didyou transition into the food truck?
We began serving at RAM in 2012 and opened the food truck in 2014.
Tell us a little about the menu.
For starters, we will have 8-10 small international plates that will pair well with our beer and wine offerings. A far as our tacos, we will have our most popular Tacos offered on a daily basis, and rotate a special taco everyday. In addition to tacos and plated entrees, we’ll have salads and a kids menu.
Korean ribeye steak tacos. Image Credit: Yelp User Emel P
What kind of lessons did you learn from transitioning from a mobile vendor to a food truck that you’ll be incorporating into the new restaurant?
Quality food and ingredients, speed, consistency,customer service,multitasking, and patience!
Your new restaurant will be located on a high traffic road in the same shopping center as successful chains like Carabas and Jimmy Johns and home-grown favorites like The Loop and Kazu. What sold you on the new location?
Demographics and location!The neighborhood has a need for tacos in the area. With all these great restaurants around me, it becomes a destination for diners for the choices that are presented to them.
Talk a little about the layout and details about the restaurant.
Dining room as you enter, then a 6 seat bar to the right, and a counter to order on the left. We will have outdoor seating for those nice days and pleasant evenings where we plan to have live music on the weekends.
Cover Image: Yelp User Stewart P